Director: Arun Gopi
Cast: Pranav Mohanlal, Rachel David, Manoj K Jayan
Composer: Gopi Sunder
There is a lot of running in the second half of Arun Gopi’s Irupathiyonnam Noottandu (Twenty First Century). A few dozen goons and police men chase two young lovers for days together for a convoluted reason. In the end, everyone gathers in a room and solves the issue in a few seconds’ time, leaving you to wonder if they couldn’t have done this an hour ago.
Pranav plays Appu (coincidentally his real-life nickname), the son of Baba (Manoj K Jayan), a former gangster in Goa who now runs a beach-front home stay. He wants to do nothing with his father’s former business, but lead a peaceful life. Into their life, arrives a woman one day – Zaya (Rachel David) whom we first see in an inebriated state on the new year’s eve, thrashing a clueless man for stealing her phone. The phone never finds a mention in the film again, but this incident takes Zaya to Appu’s modest home stay and subsequently, into his heart although he doesn’t know anything about her life.
Arun Gopi’s directorial debut, Ramaleela, a crime drama, followed a similar narrative pattern that relied on gimmickry and an irrational premise. However, the film had a consistent pace and an interesting staging of scenes that worked at the box-office. Here, he invests nothing in the film-making part, and instead, crams the film with a lot of verbal social commentary, often unrelated to the situation. In one instance, he himself appears on screen as a reporter chiding a colleague on spreading lies in the name of journalism. There are references to the controversial Bishop Franco case, and the Sabarimala hullabaloo. The state’s communist party gets a pat on the back for no particular reason, and feminists get a few potshots. And the film loyally extends unending hat-tips to Pranav’s superstar father, Mohanlal.
The film displays utter emotional tone-deafness, especially in a flash-back sequence where a woman recounts the incidents that led to her becoming a nun. As a child in a wealthy Christian join family, she was sexually abused by her uncle. Before you recover from the gravity of this revelation, the film moves to an absurd comic scene where the girl announces to her family her decision to be a nun, a status she hopes would save her from sexual predators. The camera movements as well as the background score become jovial, cutting the film off from the darkness of the sequence that preceded. The film uses pedophilia irresponsibly, like a cheap commodity to add some weight to its bland story-line.
Clumsy staging of the scenes coupled with the young actors’ diabolical performance ensure that the film’s initial meet-cute moments are absolutely unwatchable. Pranav, who has the face of a child pushed into a situation he didn’t ask for, is visibly at unease everywhere except in the long-shots where he has to do surfing or perform some friendly acrobatics. David has neither the screen-presence nor the basic acting skills to portray a mysterious beautiful woman the audience must grow fond of, and worse, Raveena Ravi’s abysmal dubbing turns Zaya into someone who doesn’t deserve to be paid attention to.
There are characters aplenty who move in and out of the frame without a purpose. Shajon plays Abusi, a gangster to whom Baba owes a lump-sum. Take him out of the film and it makes no difference to the narrative. Siddique, Innocent and Gokul Suresh appear in cameo roles, adding some star power to the sinking film. The only person who manages to create an impression is music composer Gopi Sunder whose penchant for playing high-decibel music in the background of any scene that is remotely punchy, is sure to keep the audience from dozing off during the film.
The Irupathiyonnam Noottandu review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.